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HOW THE FAMILY DOCTOR TAKES CARE OF THE HEALTH OF THE ELDERLY

HOW THE FAMILY DOCTOR TAKES CARE OF THE HEALTH OF THE ELDERLY

The diseases suffered by people aged 65 or over are mainly chronic. Some of the chronic diseases that have significant impacts on the health of seniors include diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer, cognitive impairment (eg. Alzheimer’s), and heart failure.

The family physician plays a central role in promoting health and preventing illness in seniors. Promoting health is the first step in helping people age normally. As for prevention, it involves several degrees of action. Each of these degrees considers the needs and state of health of the elderly person.

We will discuss in more detail how the family physician helps in the promotion of health in the elderly as well as in the prevention of disease.

We want to make two important points before we begin.

Because seniors generally have one or more chronic illnesses, they take a wide variety of medications. The family doctor accompanies the elderly person and his relatives to organize the medication. He must ensure that the elderly person does not take medication that could put his health at risk. He can then modify the doses or change one drug for another.

The health care that a family doctor provides to an elderly person is individualized. Each senior’s needs and health status are unique. Also, the diseases often manifest themselves atypically in the elderly. This is why it is very important for the elderly person to follow up regularly with the family doctor, to promote health and prevent complications due to the disease.

Successful aging relies on two things: encouraging healthy habits and avoiding substances or foods that have negative impacts on the health of seniors.

Promoting health among seniors

What is Successful Aging? It is aging that is characterized by three elements:

  1. The elderly person preserves his health (he is not sick);
  2. She is physically and cognitively active;
  3. She feels socially recognized and she remains productive.

We will also see how the elderly can avoid illnesses as best they can.

Physical exercise and mental health

Physical stimulation helps maintain a level of tone and vitality. This strengthens both the muscle structure and the cardiovascular system. These activities help with daily activities while helping the body better adapt to changing elements in the environment: viruses, bacteria, temperature, the physical effort required for tasks, etc.

Cognitive and mental health is also essential for seniors to be able to do the activities that energize them. By remaining in interactive with their social environment, reading, and playing various games, the elderly maintain their intellectual and mental skills.

Living environment and social recognition

The quality of the relationships that the elderly person has with his family, friends, and network plays an important role in his well-being. Depending on where the elder resides, opportunities to interact with society will have the effect of maintaining mental alertness. Above all, this social participation nourishes the feeling of achieving something good and significant. This helps to cultivate trust in elders.

Preventing diseases in the elderly

Health is the absence of disease. To promote the health of seniors, there are several negative factors from which it is strongly recommended to refrain.

The factors that most help prevent disease in the elderly are:

  • avoid smoking,
  • monitor alcohol and salt intake,
  • pay attention to overweight and cholesterol,
  • keep an eye on your blood sugar
  • And control blood pressure.

Vaccination is another beneficial way to prevent certain diseases from worsening the health of seniors, such as vaccines against pneumococcal infections

Screening for common illnesses in the elderly

Once the elderly person acquires a healthy lifestyle by avoiding risk factors, certain screenings are important.

The family doctor will determine with the person which diseases for which screening may be necessary.

At all times, seniors can remain attentive to their state of health and report any change that seems significant to them to their family doctor. Family and friends of older people can also play this role.

To clinically detect a disease or a sign of a disease in an elderly person, the family doctor will recommend the most appropriate tool. This could be a questionnaire or the use of medical technology, for example.

Cancer

The family doctor will recommend the appropriate screenings for the elderly person, such as female breast self-examination, and screening for prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, or skin cancer.

Cognitive disorders and Parkinson’s disease

The decline in cognitive abilities in the elderly is a normal phenomenon caused by aging. However, screening for cognitive disorders (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease) or Parkinson’s disease requires specialized clinical tools. The elderly person or their loved ones may notice changes in behavior, but a family doctor can make a diagnosis.

Hearing impairment

Although some hearing loss is normal, progressive hearing loss can greatly affect interactions between the older person and those around them. This can have negative effects on his sense of belonging and on his cognitive activity. It is important to mention to the family doctor as soon as possible any change that would affect the elderly person’s ability to hear sounds well.

Diabetes

For seniors affected by diabetes, prevention involves monitoring blood sugar, blood pressure, vision, and skin. The family doctor will encourage the older person with diabetes to eat a healthy diet, exercise, and maintain balanced body weight.

Lipid problem (cholesterol)

To maintain normal blood cholesterol levels, regular exercise is recommended. This will help prevent complications like coronary heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. By maintaining a healthy body mass (not overweight or obese ), monitoring other factors such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and eating a healthy diet, it is possible to minimize the risks associated with blood cholesterol.

High blood pressure

Blood pressure naturally increases with age, but should not cause symptoms such as shortness of breath on slight exertion, pain behind the breastbone, or irregular heartbeat. It is normal for seniors to generally not be able to do strenuous activities anymore. It is highly recommended to maintain a healthy level of physical activity to maintain normal blood pressure.

Visual problems

Night vision decreases with age, as does near and peripheral vision. Specialized tests will help the older person deal with blurred vision or a narrowing field of vision. Since the autonomy of the elderly person is at stake, good vision helps to keep active and promote well-being.

The family doctor offers individualized follow-up for the health of seniors

Several other organs, systems, or functions (such as mental and psychological health, sleep, lungs, stomach, liver, and sexual organs) have health factors and indicators. The family doctor is the primary resource for helping seniors maintain their health.

To take care of the health of seniors, the family doctor, relatives of seniors, and health professionals can greatly contribute to the prevention of illnesses and the promotion of a healthy and active lifestyle.

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